The South Sydney Rabbitohs are delighted to announce the Club will be taking a pre-season trial match to Albury on Saturday, February 16 2019.
The Club will continue its support of regional and country NSW, having previously played trials in Coffs Harbour, Mudgee and the Central Coast, with 2019 seeing the Rabbitohs play three pre-season trials for the first time since 2013.
The event will also include curtain raiser matches between Victoria and Riverina (Women's) as well as Riverina U23s and Melbourne Storm U20s (Men's).
Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly emphasised the opportunity for the Club to provide the region with the Rugby League it thoroughly deserves.
"One of the things we've been very clear about over the last few years as an NRL Club is our debt to Country and Regional Rugby League," said Mr Solly.
"As a sport, we can't keep taking all the best players from the country and regional areas and not put anything back in. With no City vs Country matches anymore, that takes away an opportunity for the people in regional areas to watch NRL players on an annual basis.
"Our attitude is that we need to be able to take games to regional areas like Mudgee, the Sunshine Coast, the Central Coast and Albury to ensure the next generation of players can see elite talent on a regular basis, and follow in the footsteps of Cody Walker, Damien Cook and eventually play for an NRL Club."
Chief Commercial Officer Shannon Donato was excited to announce that the Rabbitohs would also host a number of community events throughout the weekend to help promote Rugby League within the region, with the move being formulated by Head Coach Wayne Bennett.
"Wayne Bennett is a very strong believer in spreading the Rugby League gospel, and it was his idea to have an additional regional trial," Mr Donato said.
"We reached out to a number of district councils and football associations, and Albury was one of a number of regions that were keen on hosting us. Wayne was very insistent on having it there, and he has a great association with former NRL player Mike Eden, who has helped to organise this event.
"Part of the agreement was to not only host the trial there, but also to engage with the community and propagate junior Rugby League with schools through Souths Cares, so it will be a great way to support Rugby League in the Albury region.
"Albury is right on the NSW and Victoria border which means it also has an NRL and AFL divide, so it's great to be going down there to evangelise Rugby League through Souths Cares, our fan development activities and obviously through the NRL trial.
"There are strong Rugby League supporters down in Albury so it will be a great opportunity for those fans as well as for spreading the Rabbitohs gospel and 'Rabbitise' regional NSW."
Mr Donato also acknowledged the great opportunity for die-hard supporters to fulfil a Rugby League-filled weekend.
"One of the great things for Rabbitohs and Rugby League supporters is that the All Stars match will be played in Melbourne the previous night, so it should provide a good opportunity for those fans wanting to do a 'Rugby League Road-Trip' and get their early dose of Rugby League before the season proper."